by John Ward
While the main focus of those who wish to protect internet freedoms has hitherto been the provision of an alternative to Old Mass Media bias and self-censorship, it is the ‘social media’ information gatherers who are now in poll position when it comes to ‘news’.
Site owners and bloggers still dedicated to putting News First need a strategy for containing the rise and rise of the SM. Otherwise, the future will be one where we’re all reading The Daily MI6 Mail.
By now, the old print media are used to the grim ABC circulation figures that appear regularly to remind them that their business model and formats are suffering from an especially vigorous form of commercial cancer:
The above table shows the multiplicity of double-digit drops in the print media over the last year. The only ‘special case’ in there is the Telegraph, where the Twins Midas-in-reverse have been making a Horlicks of things for many years now.
Ah but (I hear you think, for I have magic powers) they’re all online now, so everything’s tickertyboo. Oh no it isn’t:
More double digits. The Old Media are adopting a dual business model of ads and subscriptions online, but it isn’t working.
And yet, although TV has retained its position as the the most-used platform for news (79%), the internet is catching up fast with 64%. Newsprint online versions just aren’t getting their fair share.
Move to the younger demographics, and a vision of the not-too-distant future appears: for the internet is now the most popular platform for newsamong 16-24s – at a staggering 82% level.
What exactly’s going on becomes clearer when you look at where the advertising budgets are going in the news context. It’s more marked in the US, where last year social media ad revenues leapt by 194%….but in the UK, the shift is also dramatic. In 2018, 56% of all marketing communications money went into social media.
Globally today, Google and Facebook takes an amazing 61% of all advertising revenues.
And the number of people who perceive these media as news providers is equally mind-blowing. 68% of all Americans say they get at least some of their news in such media, and most social media news consumers say getting news this way has helped their understanding of current events – by a margin of 2.5 to 1.
As a search engine, Google is an obvious place to look for news. Facebook, is an obvious place to look at what our friends are up to and how they feel on the big issues of the day. Twitter actually asks in every comment box ‘What’s happening?’
But just like the old media barons, social media have proprietors, and they are completely deregulated: they censor, ban users, and decide what ‘fake news’ is based on obvious bias. They are the ultimate hidden persuaders. And this persuasion is matched by an opposite view elsewhere.
The difference between now and the past is that this is not ‘spectrum of opinion’: it is paid for distortion of one opinion, and the false creation of another one.
Even something like the clear trend I’m identifying here is open to distortion and deliberate misinterpretation by other internet “charity” groups that are fronts for billionaires with equally hidden agendas.
Take Open Democracy in the UK. It carries unremittingly pro-Soros hagiography, and this week it took a potshot at ‘pro-No Deal’ Brexit advertising on Facebook. From 26th January up to 2nd February (Open Democracy claims) an advertising splurge on UK Facebook by groups supporting No Deal Brexit ‘far outstripped that of anti-Brexit groups’.
But the amount – £50,000 – is a drop in the ocean, not a splurge. And no data support at all is offered for the ‘far outstripped’ claim.
It’s fake news claiming that something untraceable and covert is spreading fake news. Not exactly what you’d call authoritative…..but very prone to becoming authoritarian.
Why? Because by definition, all these genuinely “new” online persuasion media are corporate and globalist. Their information gathering brings them into close relations with State surveillance and distribution businesses including supermarkets and retail banks. The old news ownership spread of media oligarchs was bad enough….but at least there, some genuine philanthropists and socially compassionate liberals were in the mix….and the publications wore their political position on their sleeves via the OpEd that appeared every day.
These disguised new online media will stick to the State narrative. These media will, if necessary, produce the sort of Mob Rule so terrifyingly depicted by George Orwell in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
They are no longer to be feared purely because they steal our privacy.
These media will not investigate. These media will buckle under pressure from persuaders. These media will use reporting bots with pre-programmed ‘interpretations’. These media will pervert reality and kill Truth.